When One is All You Have- #1Dress1Month

Growing up in Senegal, I knew that many of my friends only had one nice outfit…or one outfit at all. As a fashion lover since the age of about three, I would spend days or weeks planning what to wear to a party (a habit I haven’t grown out of), and my Christmas and Birthday wish lists always included that one item I felt would complete my sartorial bliss. Meanwhile, some of my friends would wear the same shirt and pants to every party, and every Sunday at church.

I’m well aware of this disconnect between the life I have lived and that of so many of my friends. Some of those dearest to me have recounted memories of being picked on at school because they wore the same shirt every day. I remember that very thing happening in my Canadian public school to the children of families on social assistance.

As hurtful as being bullied for your appearance is, not having enough clothes gets even more painful when the weather changes, as it is changing now. It’s this season that makes the difference between those who have, and those who don’t, a fatal gap.

That’s why, this month, I’m putting things into perspective for myself. For the entire month of November, I will wear one thrifted, little black dress. This dress:

littleblackdress

As I go through the month, I’ll be posting pictures of my black dress ensembles on social media, and raising awareness about how important warm clothes is for children in winter. Through my project, I hope to inspire those of use who are blessed with more than enough, to give the gift of warm clothes to kids in places where winter is bitterly cold, like Romania, through World Vision’s gift catalogue.

For someone who loves the creativity and self-expression of getting dressed in the morning, you might think this is a sacrifice. But it’s not. I get to choose from a myriad of accessories, sweaters, shoes, tights, and outerwear as the temperature drops. And, in choosing what piece I would wear for the month, I picked from about a dozen (mostly thrifted) dresses, including no less than four black dresses. This is an adventure- living without winter clothing in places like Romania isn’t.

When I was 17, I visited Romania on a high school music tour. One day we drove through a little village on our way to a local tourist attraction. As we passed the houses, I caught a glimpse of a little girl standing in a doorway, very close to the road. She was bundled against the March chill, and on her head was a warm hat in the design of a strawberry.

The image of that little girl has stuck with me. As I go through the month, I’ll be keeping her and her winter hat in mind as a symbol of what I want to achieve- that every little child we work with will have proper winter clothing this year. I’m hoping that’s a dream that will catch on.

PS- See some of the looks I’ll be taking inspiration from on my Pinterest board! To learn more about why I shop ethically (including the thrift store, where I bought my black dress), check out this post.

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Kindness, Smiles and Shoes – Loly in the sky

Loly in the Sky Giusy shoes worn by Megan Radford

It’s been a painful week. None of us could have avoided that photo, and I admit it’s been difficult to think of anything else. In my new role with a relief and development organization, I’ve had an outlet to push for change (here are some suggestions if you would also like to help). But still, I’ve been left reeling, unable to imagine a world where we could allow this to happen.

And then, on Friday evening, my doorbell rang. It was the mailman, bringing a smile. Bringing shoes.

It might seem frivolous to be writing about shoes at a moment like this. But these weren’t just any shoes- they were by a brand called Loly in the sky, a company run by a young female entrepreneur and designer from Mexico. They are handmade in her home country, creating jobs for skilled shoemakers, and inspiring girls around the world.

When I took the package and signed my name, I think I smiled my first real smile that day. As I opened the boxes, rainbow confetti scattered around me onto the floor. There were two shoe bags, a note just for me (in Spanish!) and my two pairs of Lolys. They weren’t perfect, but they were hand-crafted and beautiful.* A dream from Lorena Vazquez’s sketchbook, just for me.

Loly in the sky boxes and shoes, with confetti all around!

A week like this helps us understand the ways we are responsible to one another. For me it goes right back to the choices we make with our money, and our time. Our world is in serious need of kindness. By supporting artisans, small businesses, and companies that treat their workers with respect, we give it that, at least a little.

I’m choosing to hope that we are moving towards a time when kindness, supporting one another, and hope aren’t so far away. It’s the reason for my first blog here in a year, and it’s what I’m working towards. Will you join me?

gracefully yours,

Megan

PS- If you would like to read more about my thoughts on the ethics of name-brand footwear (like Keds, Converse and Vans), head on over to my personal blog. You can also follow me on Instagram @megancradford for a weekly dose of flowers, inspiration and ethical living.

*For you animal lovers, Loly in the sky are also vegan-friendly and work to be environmentally responsible.

Loly in the Sky Amelie worn with a red dress

Watch how my Lolys were made!